Friday, February 22, 2019

A Further Note on Libertarian Strategy

By Robert Wenzel

I continue to see in the comments here at Target Liberty and at EPJ, whenever I discuss a point of libertarian theory or free market economics or Austrian school economics, frustration along the lines of "Well, good luck with that point, the masses don't get it. All they want are their handouts."

But the point is that Target Liberty and  EPJ are not aimed primarily at the masses.

These sites are aimed at high-level libertarians and free market types that are doing deep thinking about liberty. I would estimate that this group is less than even 1% of the population.

There are another maybe between 3% to 5% of the population who identify to some degree as libertarians but these people make my head spin when I notice some of the points they make in the name of libertarianism.

It is us, the Liberty One Percenters, who ultimately are the ones that can influence change. Pretty much everyone else is a trend follower of one sort of another, with a lowered ability to think in a deep fashion about complex issues.

The masses are what Jordan Peterson calls the low-resolution thinkers. They are never going to come close to a deep understanding of liberty. The best we can do with them is nudge them on simple points. But we need to know the deep points to know how to nudge them and how far we can nudge particular individuals.

The more and more I think about socialists, the more I realize their Achilles heel is that they are just not deep thinkers.

This is a point we should continually make: Socialism=lack of deep thinking.

They just can't think more than once step deep about issues that are complex and require very deep thinking.

That is, it is so easy for them to fall into the "give away, give me" trap. They think it is a sound solution to just have government give things to them. But this ignores many problems. The immediate problem being, which some get, is where is the money going to come from?

The simple mass thinker then, of course, counters with the simple notion: "tax the rich."

But this ignores these deeper thoughts: Taxing the rich will not be enough to pay for all the giveaways. But even deeper is the problem of killing incentive and even deeper and more serious, it shrinks the capital structure.

It is very difficult for the socialists to understand this because their low-resolution thinking prevents them from even understanding that there are two types of capitalists, evil crony capitalists and productive capitalists. They just lump them all together as one evil bunch, not recognizing how important productive capitalists are.

Henry Hazlitt tried to reach some of the masses with his important book Economics In One Lesson. A more accurate title would be, "What the Shallow Thinkers Don't Get About Economics."

And so at a very base level, our point to the socialists should be simple: Socialism is about shallow thinking. With the very simple amongst them, this will be the extent of the attack we can make against socialism.

But there will be some who are deeper thinkers who haven't been introduced to deeper, sound complex thinking about economics and society in general. And this is where we can become more aggressive by taking these people as deep as we can into the beautiful but complex structure of freedom. We hone our skills at sites like Target Liberty and EPJ so that we can then provide doses of the red pill for those who are capable of tolerating it. There are many, certainly far from all of the masses, but many who can be reached. To the non-thinkers, there is not much more we can say to them other than speak truth and tell them that socialism lacks deep thinking. But the important thing is that the shallower a thinker, the more of a trend follower that thinker is. They will follow along with what deeper thinkers hold as truth and so our task is to introduce complex thinking to those who can absorb.

Now, this will work with many but not all. There are people on this planet who are clever thinkers but desire power. They will never be converted. The drive for power overwhelms any other thoughts, but they can be neutered to the degree that others become suspicious of central power---and that is our goal, to breed suspicion about central power since, for those who understand it, it is clear central power is never good for anyone except those in power.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank and most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. Socialism is not lack of deep thinking. It's lack of thinking, the literal regression to chimpanzee behavior. Complete with forced "sharing", violence, and the dominating leader of the troop.

  2. The anti capitalists don’t understand capital at all. They think Warren buffet is scrooge McDuck swimming in a giant vault filled with gold coins. The billionaires are “Hoarding” thier wealth. Th Walton’s should just give all thier money away. They think Forbes list of richest people tells them how much cash rich people have laying around the mansion. They equate estimated net worth to cash on had.

    They don’t understand what would happen if Bezos’ ex-wife were to sell all her Amazon shares.

  3. What motivation does a low resolution thinker have to move from the status-quo to liberty? Math won't do it. The low resolution thinker doesn't think that far ahead. Furthermore if they even can accept the warning they think they are better off with free stuff or virtue signalling today and collapse some time later anyway.

    What does liberty have to offer to the low resolution thinker?

    Now what about deep thinkers that we are to think simply haven't been exposed to liberty? Usually a deep thinker who hasn't come around to liberty in some form all on their own is invested in the status-quo and the direction it is going. He will likely know it will be a disaster but he benefits from things the way they are. His self interest is keeping the status quo going and that's what he will do.

    Again we are left with the problem what does liberty offer a deep thinker who makes a very nice living from things being as they are?

    Take someone like Krugman, we all can tell from some of his writings he knows better but what does he do each and every time when it's his income on the line? Push the state and socialism. Greenspan, much the same thing.

  4. I have had no luck getting through to socialists. If merely being low-res, shallow thinkers were their only shortfalls, then I might have made some progress. But they are a different breed, due to their high level of arrogance, and contempt for other views, and their passion for and loyalty to their ideology (not unlike some libertarians, one might observe); Having a dispassionate argument with them is like trying to debate a group of bullies by cogently pointing out to them the finer points of the NAP and Natural Rights. Or akin to priggishly chiding a group of class-clowns in the back of the classroom who keep mocking you and launching spit-balls at you----all you do is embolden them to pile-on, snicker, mock, tease and mine more amusement at your expense.
    Libertarians and socialists---like elves and orcs---hate and detest each other, and seem destined to be mortal enemies forever. (My own elven-sword glows green whenever socialists are around!... lol).

  5. To make progress, I don't think that we need to convince a majority of people to advocate living in a NAP-based or PPS society. We just need to convince sufficient people to (a) question, withdraw their support for, ignore, and operate outside the state, so that we hasten its collapse, and/or (b) peacefully secede into a smaller political entity, leaving those who disagree to deal with the larger state.

    Thus its probably not worth the effort to try to convert hard-core socialists.

  6. Here's what it's like debating economics with a bunch of democratic-socialists:

  7. I think socialism has firm roots in ignorance. Kids are brought up to disdain business and revere a university education. Their anger and hate are manifest after graduation (after doing everything they were told to do) where the majority are not welcomed into the private sector with red carpets and yachts. They never learned how economics works, but they know someone is benefiting and therefore must have gained dishonestly.

    Like a woman scorned by a man giving too many promises, these intelligent and capable people work with zeal towards bringing down a system that they think promised too much and gave them too little.